Sunday Crash a Reminder of Henry Avenue Danger; It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

by | June 22, 2020 | Biking in Philly, Crash | 12 comments

Bike in Philly

A cyclist was tragically killed at the intersection of Henry Avenue and Hermit Lane in the Wissahickon section of Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, according to media reports and police.

The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene after killing 17-year old Samuel Ozer, who was well-known and loved in his Manayunk cycling community. No charges have been filed, yet.

Friends remembered Sam as kind and loving. A recent graduate of the AIM Academy, he was a former captain of their mountain biking team, and worked at the Trek Manayunk bike shop on Main Street.

There will be a Memorial Ride of Silence on Tuesday from Cadence Multisport (3740 Main St) in Manayunk at 6pm. Cyclists will begin gathering at 5:45pm. 

“Please give your kids, folks who ride bicycles, and the rest of the folks you love some extra love and understanding as we all process this tragic loss,” noted Pennsylvania Interscholastic Mountain Biking, on their Facebook page, regarding the crash.

The incident is a grim reminder of the danger of Philadelphia’s urban highways, like Henry Avenue, Lincoln Drive, Whitaker Avenue, Roosevelt Boulevard, and countless others, all of which see higher rates of traffic deaths, compared to most streets in Philadelphia.

Henry Avenue has long been dangerous for all road users, and residents have been begging public officials for interventions.

For example, speed cameras were proposed by State Representative Pam DeLissio two years ago as part of the Roosevelt Boulevard speed camera legislation, but the Henry Ave component was removed before the final legislation was approved.

Similarly, engineering changes for Henry Avenue have been approved by PennDOT and the Philadelphia Streets Department, but most argue the interventions do not go far enough, as they keep Henry Avenue the multi-lane speedway through neighborhoods.

A horrifying 10 people have died in traffic crashes on Henry Avenue over the last five years, according to our traffic counts. Half of those killed have met their fate within 800 feet of the particular intersection where the cyclist was killed on Sunday. 

The City and PennDOT have moved to make changes to Henry Avenue — but it has clearly taken much too long. Several years ago, concerned neighbors in the area met with PennDOT’s Project Manager to ask that Henry Ave and Barnes Streets be included in the long-planned Henry Ave design project, notes Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia member Suzanne Hagner.

“There was growing concern about the crashes and loss of life on the section of Henry Ave that borders the Wissahickon neighborhood,” Hagner said. “We were listened to and pleased with the new design as well as the safety measures that Streets Department installed on that section of highway, which has been effective on a dangerous curve.”

With her neighbors, Hagner was able to get the City to agree to some safety measures in that area, including flex posts in the median to deter motorists from making illegal turns onto Hermit Lane, as she explained in her presentation at the 2020 Vision Zero Conference.

“But we must do better to protect all our citizens,” Hagner added.

PennDOT is still taking comments on its proposal for a Henry Avenue project. Among the highlights: a side path has been proposed for Henry Avenue, between Walnut Lane and School House Lane, which is good, but still lacks the tough-but-necessary changes that need to happen so fewer people are killed and injured along this road. Long-term projects, like this one, should be dedicated to Vision Zero, not the Philly Shrug.

You can read more about the project and submit your comments here.

We believe everyone reading this should go comment on the project’s page, now. Comments are due by 5PM on Monday June, 29th.

Henry Avenue is a street that does not need to be left the way it is now. Doing so is actually incredibly irresponsible.

Among the changes to the street PennDOT does not propose, but should:

  • A lower speed limit: the current speed limit is 35 miles per hour, and motorists regularly drive double that.
  • Speed cameras: Henry Avenue almost received much-needed speed cameras in 2018, when the Roosevelt Boulevard bill was moving through the state Legislature. This enforcement technology should be installed all over Henry Avenue to keep motorists from gaining the kind of speed that kills pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.
  • Road diet: Just because Henry Avenue is an urban highway doesn’t mean it needs to be. As long as work is already being done on the Avenue, why not install, or even pilot, a lane reduction? Lane reductions have been proven to bring down vehicle speeds where used.
  • Protected bike lanes: This is a no brainer. Protected bike lanes keep cyclists safer and reduce motor vehicle speed. There are conflict zones on parts of Henry Avenue that force cyclists to compete with vehicles going at least 35 miles per hour, but usually more like 60 or 70.
  • Pedestrian refuges: Henry Avenue goes through several neighborhoods, with all sorts of businesses and residential buildings — big box stores, restaurants, apartments, houses, schools, gas stations, a golf course (and, yes, people cross Henry Avenue in golf carts) and entrances to the Wissahickon Park. We need to give the people crossing Henry Avenue a safe, reliable way to get across the street that doesn’t involve putting their lives in danger, and pedestrian refuges are a part of that.

The Bicycle Coalition and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia mourn for the victim and his family. We will continue working to make this street, and all streets, safer for everyone who wants to use them. These sorts of crashes, while they seem inevitable, are not. There are interventions we can make to change our roads for the better. We just need to value human life over speed.

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12 Comments
  1. Nina Rebmann

    Ridge and Henry Ave are both very unsafe roads even for motorists. Numerous motorists are typically going well over the posted speed limits: speeding – driving over the speed limit by 10-20 mph! More police presence and surveillance would be helpful!

    Reply
  2. JOANNE BEZAK

    The grassroots road users are the experts in determining dangerous traffic patterns. Their concerns are based on personal interaction. It should not take years to remedy. Listen to us and implement change.

    Reply
  3. Meg Greenfield

    Another heartbreaking, needless death. PennDOT needs to adopt the scientically recognized measure of modern roundabouts.
    They can and must be used at Henry Avenue intersections, starting with Walnut Lane and School House Lane. They work, saving lives, modulating traffic flow and speed. When they replace red lights, they significantly reduce the number of serious collisions and deaths, and pollution from idling, with no material change to PennDOT’s sacred Level of Service ( “LOS”) for vehicles. Make LOS mean LEVEL OF SAFETY for a real change.

    Reply
  4. Susan Cannavo

    More red light cameras need to be installed along with speed cameras fir the long term people totally disregard red lights and the speed limit on Henry Ave . Also at Walnut lane Chubbys and Dalessandros traffic csuse way to much congestion and traffic issues as cars will double park in the no Passing lane and also park in the no parking zone this needs to be addressed . Walnut lane to Schoolhouse lane has always been a death trap and no one wants to correct this properly . How more lives will it take?

    Reply
  5. ROCKIE SOTO

    I live in 5458 Henry Ave and I heard when the car hit the kid. Samuel Ozer. I move here 5 years ago and let me tell you I saw more accident in 5 years than 5 ppl in there life time. I saw 2 car crash Back to back. I saw 18 wheeler turn over. I once heard the accident that too 3 kid life. They flew out the car. This happen not far from Samuel. My neighbor and I are scare to walk on Henry. She even had a car go inside her garage. I once save a man that hit a lamp post and was dizzy. I had to break his window to get him out. I called Henry DEATH ROAD 💀. They just added a speed sign. Please if that machine don’t give out ticket it won’t do no justice. They’re still speeding as I type this NOW 6/25/20 4:02. WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING. IT WILL NOT END. ROCKIE SOTO JR.

    Reply
  6. ROCKIE SOTO

    How about those 3 kid that got kill last year not far from the 17 Samuel. The tractor trailer the turn over on Henry and I have pic. How about when a car drove inside my neighborhood house on Hermit and Henry and if you see the angle you scratched your head like how the heck he drove unless he drove on top of the sidewalk. I saw the light post in front of my house get destroyed and replace 3x. How many time I lost power and it was not Mother Nature Fault. HOW MANY!, HOW MANY!,
    HOW MANY ARE GOING TO DIE BEFORE PENNDOT TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY 🤬🤯😡😩

    Reply
  7. ROCKIE SOTO

    They just added a speed sign on the corner of Robert and Henry. Like that is really going to help. I just now look out the window and saw it with my eyes car going over the limit. If any of you ladies that comment here are going to plan something please let me know. I want to get involve and so does my Neighbor. We are tire. We are the one that hear and see the accident.
    I’m real close to the corner of Henry and Hermit. I’m the one that has a Green light post.
    I saw Samuel Die. It really freak me out. Every time I pull of my driveway I look toward the accident. I feel his presence. It really freaking me out. That street really gotten to me. That shouldn’t happen especially on Father Days. R.I.P. I have lot of story to share. THIS MUST END. 🚧 Rockie.

    Reply
  8. ROCKIE SOTO

    Why are you blocking my comment. I took time of my life to write what I saw and heard on Henry. Who is better to do so the guy that live in front of Henry where mostly all accident happen. Stop blocking me.

    Reply
    • Randy LoBasso

      Hi Rockie:

      Your comment was not blocked, but it takes a few minutes to approve comments made by first-time commenters. Thank you for your comments and I hope we can all work together to fix Henry Avenue.

      Reply
  9. Carolyn Hartman

    I am not a cyclist but a mother of one and I am also down to help any initiatives. I sent a comment to PennDot. Please keep me apprised of any other way in which I can help. My other son attended school with Sam. I am sick over this. So unnecessary.

    Reply
  10. ROCKIE SOTO

    I hope the Mother of sam don’t mind we place a lil Memorial on Henry Ave. I’m piss off look at what they put on the corner of Robert and Henry. I Speed reader that reads speed limit 35. I stood there last night doing the memorial and saw car going way past 35. I even stood in front of it with my phone and took video and the machine had car going 45 and over. The only reason they slow down cause they saw me with my phone recording it and I have video of them and there plate. Even seeing me and my friend Joe setting the memorial they were flying pass us and my friend told me to move before I get hit. It burn me up even doe they see WHST I was doing they didn’t care. WE NEED A RED LIGHT CAMERA INSTALL OR BUMP. I think it better if they install bump Cause from my own eyes as soon as they pass the light on Hermit they zoom down Henry all the way to the next light near the College. IF YOU GOOGLE ( How many ppl got kill on Henry Avenue 19128 it said 10 in the past 5 years That how long Zi live in Henry. It break my heart. I paid lot of money and high Tax so I can leave a place that a bullet can take your life just sitting in your step Bad Land North Philly to live here where a Car can kill you in front of your house. Yes I almost got kill once. A dude hit the light pole instead of me and I broke his car window to get him out and save him. IM MEMORY OF SAMUEL OZER PLEASE DO SOMETHING TO END NUMBER 10 DEATH. LET NOT REACH 11. AMEN.

    Reply
  11. Mark

    For the last few weeks, every time I drove by the memorial to Samuel Ozer on Henry Avenue, driving at the 35 mph speed limit, other cars would speed by me at 55 mph or 65 mph, ignoring the recently installed digital speed sign. Half or more of these speeders have had New Jersey or other out-of-state license plates.

    Today, as I drove by the memorial to Samuel Ozer, not only was the memorial gone, the entire street light post the signs were posted on was gone. All that was left was the stump of a street light post. What happened?

    Reply

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